Excerpts of “Balloons Belong in Church” by Ann Weems

I took to church one morning a happy four-year-old boy
Holding a bright blue string to which was attached
his much loved orange balloon with pink stripes… Certainly a thing of beauty
And if not forever, at least a joy for a very important now.
When later he met me at the door
Clutching blue string, orange and pink bobbing behind him,
He didn’t have to tell me something had gone wrong.
“What’s the matter?” He wouldn’t tell me.
“I bet they loved your balloon…”
Out it came, then — mocking the teacher’s voice, “We don’t bring balloons to church.”
Then that little four-year old, his lip a little trembly, asked:
“Why aren’t balloons allowed in church? I thought God would like balloons.”
I celebrate balloons, parades and chocolate chip cookies.
I celebrate seashells and elephants and lions that roar.
I celebrate the sun that shines slab dab in our faces…
I celebrate birth: the wonder…the miracle…of that tiny life already asserting its selfhood.
I celebrate children
who laugh out loud, who walk in the mud and dawdle in the puddles
who like to be tickled, who scribble in church
who whisper in loud voices, who sing in louder voices
who run…and laugh when they fall, who ask questions
who hug us in a hurry and rush outside without their hats.
I celebrate children who are so busy living they don’t have time for our hangups
And I celebrate adults who are as little children.
I celebrate life…that we may live more abundantly…
Where did we get the idea that balloons don’t belong in the church?
Where did we get the idea that God loves gray and Sh-h-h-h-h
And drab and anything will do?
I think it’s blasphemy not to appreciate the joy in God’s world.
I think it’s blasphemy not to bring our joy into God’s church.
So celebrate!
Bring your balloons and your butterflies, your bouquets of flowers…
Bring the torches and hold them high!
Dance your dances, paint your feelings, sing your songs, whistle, laugh.
Life is a celebration, an affirmation of God’s love.
Life is distributing more balloons.
Where did we ever get the idea that balloons don’t belong in the church?